CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of April 2nd
In the Creel: We start eyeballing salmon this time of year, and they’re already coming in. Both commercial and recreational ocean seasons opened on Wednesday with reports of some decent-sized Chinook being landed already. Bottom fishing is still in the red-hot zone, and ocean crabbing has picked up over the last week. Meanwhile, the Fat Lady is singing for winter steelhead, and some rivers are now closed to all fishing until cutthroat trout season opens next month. So, how about a little surf fishing? Perch are on the bite in spring and maybe it’s time to enjoy the beach while picking up dinner in the bargain. As we approach April 15th, just keep in mind that fishing has created more liars than taxes.
Salmon River: The river is closed to all fishing effective April 1st. The river will reopen May 23rd for the cutthroat trout season.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. Fish are being caught in most sections depending on river conditions. This time of year tends to produce a good percent of native fish and/or post-spawn fish. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobbers and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners.
Yaquina River/Bay: The river is closed to all fishing effective April 1st and will reopen on May 23rd with the cutthroat trout season opener.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is slow and will remain so for the rest of the season. Native fish tend to be prevalent this time of year. Casting lures, bobbers and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: The rainbow trout stocking program is in full swing and most water bodies have been stocked recently or will be again soon. They’ll be stocked multiple times until early June. Be sure to check out the 2015 stocking schedule here.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rockfish are jumpin’ in the boat off of Newport and Depoe Bay, with great catch rates and good-sized fish reeled-in last week. Lingcod catches were good at the beginning of the week, but rough seas put a damper on ‘em through the weekend. Several handouts – including ‘What Can I Keep, and How Many?’ plus species identification tips – are available on the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON A handful of Chinook salmon were landed into Newport last week, with the largest one weighed by ODFW samplers coming in at around 20 pounds. Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., including the Central Coast, now through April 30th. This season is open for all salmon except Coho, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger. Anglers are restricted to no more than two single point barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, and when fishing for any other species if a salmon is on board the vessel.
* HALIBUT Closed. Staff-recommended 2015 season dates are available here.
* PERCH Spring often finds saltwater perch species like pile perch moving into the bays. Redtail and silver surfperch can be caught from ocean beaches. Get some tips on surf fishing here.
* CRAB Ocean crabbing is slow on the Central Coast, although it has picked up a bit recently, with catch rates up to two crabs per pot observed on a recent trip. But, even in this lean part of the year, you have a better chance of landing some crab by learning better techniques; go here for help.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clams remain closed from the Oregon/California border north to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River in Florence due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The closure includes razor clams on all beaches, rocks, jetties, and at the entrance to bays in this section of the Oregon Coast. Opportunities to collect razor clams are still available along Central Coast beaches north of Florence. However, the next minus tide series doesn’t begin until April 17th, with the lowest a -1.6’ on the 20th. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS/SCALLOPS Mussels are open along the entire coast. Due to potential biotoxins, consuming whole scallops is not recommended. But, a scallop’s adductor muscle does not accumulate biotoxins and may be safe for consumption. Scallops are not being sampled for biotoxins at this time.
* BAY CLAMS See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: It’s underway! The early ocean commercial salmon troll season (from Cape Falcon south to the California Border) for all salmon except Coho began yesterday, April 1st, and runs through April 30th. No Quota. General Regulations: 1) Prior to August 1st, in the waters within the 15 fathom contour adjacent to Tillamook Bay between Twin Rocks and Pyramid Rock all Chinook must be fin-clipped. 2) Gear restricted to single point barbless hooks and no more than 4 spreads per wire. 3) Minimum lengths: Chinook 28” and no size restriction for pink, chum, or sockeye salmon. NOTE: Appropriate Pacific halibut license holders may retain incidentally caught Pacific halibut while trolling for salmon. No more than 1 Pacific halibut may be landed for each 4 Chinook salmon landed, except 1 Pacific halibut may be landed without meeting the ratio requirement, and no more than 12 Pacific halibut may be landed per trip. All retained Pacific halibut must be no less than 32”.
So, how did the fleet fair on the first day? Six or eight trollers plowed out through rather iffy conditions at the tide change mid-morning. Most headed to the likeliest spot to find Chinook, Stonewall Banks, 13 or more miles west of Newport. Even after the two to three hour run to get there, some of the guys landed up to ten Chinook of varying sizes. Looks like the start of a good year!
Fore-Cast: Unsettled weather will affect all fishermen over the week ahead. A mix of sunshine, clouds, showers, possible thunderstorms and variable, sometimes gusty, winds are in the cards. You’ll probably want to take along raingear and sunglasses on most days, just in case. Offshore, there doesn’t appear to be any big storms looming, but occasional blasts of 25 knot winds are possible in some of the stronger showers predicted. Seas are expected to stay in the 7-8 foot range until Sunday when they build to 9-10 feet. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notice to Mariners… None this week.
Fishin’ with Chris does not come with a warranty but, fortunately, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working. Information is supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns